Last week at the 2013 CAR Conference, DocumentCloud's Lead Developer Ted Han joined a panel discussing how to get the widest impact out of a software project.
Reporter's Lab has a thorough write-up of the panel, addressing the questions how much code is really re-used, and how to measure the success of a software project.
Success for an open-source project is different from a commercial one. As Han said during the panel, the big difference between commercial and open source start-up projects is “less a question of how you operate and more a question of your values.”
The Reporters lab also highlighted findings from the book Internet Success, a massive study of open-source projects, which Rich Gordon of Northwestern University also shared at CAR 2013. From Reporter's Lab:
"The key takeaways were what the successful projects had in common:
- Clearly defined vision
- Clearly defined audience
- Well-articulated and clear goals
- Modular software design
- Tasks of various sizes are available for developers to work on
"It’s telling that these features are all characteristic of DocumentCloud, one of the most successfully deployed journalism tools to date.
While it may be tempting at first to attribute that success wholly to the financial support DocumentCloud received throughout its development cycle — first from the Knight News Challenge in 2009 and then from IRE in 2011 – it’s clear there’s something more at play here."